Los Angeles Soccer: Pablo Sandoval
The Colombian striker, the Goats' biggest name, spent training away from the field Thursday with what head coach Robin Fraser termed “just a little but of precautionary measures with concussion protocol.”
Angel, 36, said he has had problems since hitting heads with Portland Timbers defender Eric Brunner during a preseason game two weeks ago in Oregon. He has started both Chivas games since, the preseason finale March 4 against San Jose and last weekend's Major League Soccer opener against Houston.
“It's been bothering me since [the collision] when I head the ball, when I don't [tense] the muscles [in my neck to prepare to head the ball],” Angel said Thursday. “I had a word with the doctor. [Because of the protocol], he said let's take a couple of days and see. I'll take it easy until tomorrow, and then we'll address it from there.”
MLS's concussion protocol, instituted after several players -- including 101-goal scorer Taylor Twellman and former Chivas/Galaxy forward Alecko Eskandarian -- saw their careers shortened by concussions, mandates that a player see a doctor, be symptom-free for a week, then pass cognitive tests. (Chivas defender Jimmy Conrad retired for similar reasons after going through the protocol last season.)
Angel, who said he was “feeling better” on Thursday, has not been diagnosed with a concussion, but he acknowledges he has had symptoms similar to those related to concussions.
If Angel can't play Saturday night against Vancouver at Home Depot Center, rookie Casey Townsend or newcomer Cesar Romero likely will get the call up front. Townsend is a target striker, like Angel; Romero is more versatile and was playing with Chivas' first team in a short training scrimmage Thursday.
OUT BY A NOSE: Alejandro Moreno will miss the game against Vancouver because of a broken nose suffered at the Portland tournament. He had surgery last week, was available but did not play in Sunday's loss to Houston, then broke it again while playing 90 minutes in a reserve-team friendly Monday against the L.A. Blues. He had a second surgery later that day.
CARSON -- Chivas USA is heading to Portland a little lighter. The club Saturday released forward Chris Cortez and left two trialists at home when it departed Sunday for the final phase of preseason.
Cortez, 23, lost his battle for a roster spot, dropping further down the depth chart with the additions of first-round draft choice Casey Townsend and just-signed Cesar Romero. The 6-foot-4 striker from Mission Viejo joined the Goats during preseason last year and made nine Major League Soccer appearances, with one start.
“We had a lot of high hopes for Chris when he came in,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser told ESPN Los Angeles on Sunday morning. “He's a big, strong man who hits the ball extremely hard. We certainly expected him to develop quite a bit, and while he's come along, probably not as quickly as we would have needed him to.
“He definitely has qualities that will make him a big pro, for sure. It's a matter of time -- we have to make decisions as we get close to the season here, and some of the other forwards have proven to be more dangerous on a daily basis.”
Cortez made appearances in six of eight preseason games, all off the bench, and he scored in the victory over Thousand Oaks-based minor-leaguers FC Hasental. The former Cal star played in all 10 MLS Reserve League games last year, scoring five goals.
Fraser must submit by Thursday a roster of as many as 30 players, with the first 18 to 20 counting against the league $2.81 million salary cap. Some decisions likely won't be made until after that date, with trialists fighting for open spots or the club making further roster moves to accommodate additional signings.
The season begins March 11 against Houston at Home Depot Center; the roster freeze date and trade deadline don't arrive until Sept. 15.
Fraser left at home defender Mario Ledesma, from Woodland Hills, and Mexican midfielder Pablo Sandoval, who have been in camp since preseason began in mid-January. The coach said both had a chance to continue with the club when it returns after a week in Portland.
CARSON -- Chivas USA has been looking to tap into Southern California's rich pool of young talent, and the first real foray was on display as the club opened its preseason camp Monday morning at Home Depot Center.
Salvadoran midfielder Marvin Iraheta, who came to Chivas' academy in last year's merger with Cosmos West, was presented, sort of, as the Goats' newest signing. He was the U.S. Developmental Academy's U-17/18 Player of the Year for the 2009-10 season and played at Old Trafford last year with a Cosmos side constructed for Paul Scholes' testimonial match.
Iraheta, just 19, is looking for more.
“I'm very happy about the opportunity I'm being given,” Iraheta, who moved from El Salvador to Pasadena when he was 17 and holds a green card, said through a translator. “This is something new for me, and I'm going to work as hard as I can so I can reach the top.”
Fraser, who Monday also welcomed English midfielder Ryan Smith, right back James Riley, goalkeeper Tim Melia and rookie forward Casey Townsend to the club, not only likes Iraheta, but also what he represents.
“Marvin is a tremendous product of Southern California soccer,” the Goats' head coach said. “He's a kid who was the Development Academy's Player of the Year a couple year back, certainly highly sought-after, well-recognized for his achievements. He's a non-nonsense, hard-working midfielder. He's a battler. He's a true competitor.
“It's great. This is what we've talked about since we got here [a year ago]: to be able to find and unearth some of the local talent that's here, and Marvin is a good example of that. he's a kid who's excelled as a youth player and is certainly moving into this next stage of his career.”
Another local talent, former Chivas Academy defender Mario Ledezma, is on trial with the Goats. The El Camino Real High School grad had been in Guadalajara's system.